🔵 The next phase for social media, and what that means for artists
How social media's evolution might benefit the broadcasters, but potentially save the introverts too
Hi there -
(No newsletter on Monday, sorry - short version is there was no news and nothing to write about, and frankly I’d sooner spare your attention and inbox than just deliver something weak for the sake of getting something out.)
I love nothing more than an article which really gets me thinking. That was most definitely the case when reading’s “Selling your filter bubble back to you”.
(Before going any further, I would heartily recommend subscribing to Ryan’s Substack, Garbage Day. It’s an essential read. Go Premium too - 100% worth it.)
In it, Broderick cites The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mimms, who argues that social media is not dying, it is turning into broadcast media. The bulk of what we are seeing in our feeds is being created by a small creator class for the most part. Those creators have also figured out what the main platform providers have not: how to get people paying for subscriptions.
Broderick further argues that this could lead to platforms using AI to give users much more control over their feeds. I’ve no doubt he’s right on that front too.
Really though what stuck with me was this notion that we’re moving into a space where social media as we knew it - that hot mess of feeds and opinions - is turning into a broadcast platform where only a few creators really cut through.
Reflecting on my own social media use, I realised this is true. On YouTube (which I would certainly argue is social media, though some may argue otherwise), I tend to default back to the creators who I have subscribed to. Similarly, on Instagram I am just seeing the same few accounts for the most part. Instagram actually feels like a race to the bottom; having clicked like on a few viral meme-ish posts, my feed is now awash with facile content looking for laughs. I’m not against that, but let’s not pretend this is high quality engagement.
So if Mimms is correct, and social media is evolving into broadcast, what does that mean for musicians?
For me, it feels like those who have already engaged with the broadcast creator approach (Kenny Beats being a good case in point) may well thrive even more. After all, this development leans in their direction.
And for everyone else? This feels like it might be a liberation of sorts. I firmly believe that if you asked 1,000 professional musicians what they would do if all social media disappeared tomorrow, over 800, if not 900, would respond to the effect of “I’d celebrate.”
I've recently commented on the tipping point musicians are reaching with the bandwidth available for managing various channels. It was why I was sympathetic to the idea that some might even use AI to effectively clone themselves and have those bots post for them.
However if the reality is that social channels will narrow, I suspect that might be welcomed by most artists. If this removes the need for all that platform management and instead becomes something where great content can be created that will promote their work (in much the same way that music videos solved a logistical problem in the early 1980s - namely how the artist can perform on music shows around the world all at the same time), then I think that’s a development the majority would welcome.
I don’t view this as a “hooray - social media is dead!” situation, but it is an evolution, and a very welcome one at that if it does come to pass. It would see artists able to focus on their art and how that is presented through a controlled creative, rather than via an always-on scenario where the machine requires constant feeding, often watering down the artist, their aesthetic and everything about them.
I’d call that a victory, wouldn’t you?
Have a great evening,
🎶 listening to “i/o”, the new album from Peter Gabriel. Two things have caught me about this: first that you can stream it in full on Bandcamp, and second that there are two mixes of the whole album. One is “light”, the other “dark”, and both are really compelling listens. I’d love to see this kind of thing happen more often - the two versions definitely showcase how and why this is a good thing.
📺 watching “Why I Removed ALL My Music From STREAMING” by Curtiss King. Granted, this is wrapped in a lot of influencer posturing etc that might turn you off, but at its heart I think it’s a fairly solid reflection of how the artists NOT at the top of the pile feel about streaming these days. Music industry: take note.
🤖 playing with Jamahook, a new AI sound matching platform which claims to use AI to enable you to feed it one sound and have it deliver other audio in your sample library that sound similar. I’m just getting started but if it does what it says, it could be a super useful tool for producers.
Stories from the Music Industry:
They are calling for a new EU bill that will: Oblige streaming services to make their algorithms and recommendation tools transparent “and to guarantee that European works are visible and accessible”. Create a “diversity indicator” that analyses what genres and languages are available, as well as “the presence of independent authors”. Require the streaming services to “identify right-holders via the correct allocation of metadata to help their works to be discovered”. Oblige them to also use a label for tracks that are purely AI-generated, so that listeners understand their origin Increase the EU’s investment in European music: “including local and niche artists or artists from vulnerable communities to offer a more diverse repertoire, as well as to support authors in the digital transformation of their business models”.
👆🏻Hot take: this feels not unlike the censorship debate, in that there are many pros and cons with neither side necessarily outweighing the other. A complex, problematic area.
The toolkit includes a white-label presentation explaining Credits Due; advice and digital assets for running an event; and a checklist and writer split sheet for musicians. “It’s a set of practical resources to help associations and representative organisations spread the word about the importance of songwriter credits in the digital ecosystem,” said The Ivors Academy’s interim CEO Charlie Phillips.
👆🏻Hot take: I really like this. I have a real passion for directly useful, actionable things and this very much fits that brief. Kudos.
For the Billboard consumption charts to be as accurate as possible, it’s essential to include independent record stores: the outlets at which consumers are investing the greatest amount of effort and spending the most money to demonstrate their listening habits. Weighting is not the ultimate answer, but neither is its removal.
👆🏻Hot take: this is a worthwhile read, as I’d argue it has echoes of a sort to the Spotify “1,000 plays” move. By eliminating the smaller shops, the picture gets distorted on sales. As the article notes, this isn’t a problem here in the UK, so why is it so hard to do in the US?
Among the findings: 73% of them found that listening to, reading or writing lyrics enables them to “process difficult feelings and emotions”, while 54% said this helps to reduce feelings of isolation or loneliness. Youth Music said that the latter stat was noticeably larger for this age group than for older people: twice as likely as people aged over 55, for example. “This new evidence shows that creativity continues to provide an important outlet for young people in times like these,” said Youth Music CEO Matt Griffiths in his statement on the research
👆🏻Hot take: I wonder if an alternative take is that the heavier use of social media among that demographic might result in more mental wellbeing issues such that lyrics are sought to provide that comfort.
It found that 89% of those people are aware of AI technologies, and that 79% agree that ‘human creativity remains essential to the creation of music’. Meanwhile, 76% said that an artist’s music or vocals should not be used or ingested by an AI without permission; 74% agreed that AI should not be used to clone or impersonate artists without permission; and 73% agreed that an AI system ‘should clearly list any music that it has ingested or used for training’.
👆🏻Hot take: I think in general these responses feel pragmatic, which is good to see.
Stories from the Broader World of Tech:
Amazon is joining the AI image generation fray with the release of its Titan text-to-image AI model. Announced during the AWS re:Invent conference, Titan Image Generator can create “realistic, studio-quality images” and is supposed to have built-in guardrails against toxicity and bias. Titan isn’t a standalone app or website but a tool that developers can build on to make their own image generators powered by the model.
👆🏻Hot take: for clarity, this AI platform requires deeper development knowledge, but it’s still notable to have Amazon entering this side o the AI space.
The rise of AI also made itself felt in the figures. Three in ten UK internet users aged 16 or over said they had used a generative AI tool, while four in five online teenagers and 40 percent of online 7 to 12-year-olds have used the services. ChatGPT was the most used generative AI service, with 23 percent of internet users aged 16 or over saying they had used it in a June 2023 survey. That said, while OpenAI and ChatGPT topped the charts this time, the likes of Bing Chat and Google Bard, with 11 and 9 percent respectively, were close behind.
👆🏻Hot take: really interesting to see how usage trends are changing, particularly around social media given my thoughts above.
Need something else to read? Here you go:
Choose the browser that best suits your privacy needs.
👆🏻Hot take: ignore the headline; this is actually a terrific walkthrough of the different browsers out there and how they fare for privacy.
They’re surprising useful. Here are 12 things they can do post-brew.
👆🏻Hot take: file under “well I never knew that…”; all manner of uses for your post-brew teabag. No, seriously.
Who am I and who are Motive Unknown?
I’m Darren and I’m the MD of Motive Unknown. I started the company back in 2011. Since then we’ve grown to a team of 20, representing some 25 indie labels in the marketing strategy space, as well as working with artists directly.
Our artist clients cover anything from top-tier pop (Spice Girls, Robbie Williams) through hip hop (Run The Jewels, Dessa), electronic (Underworld, Moby) and more. Our label clients take in Dirty Hit (The 1975, Beabadoobee) Partisan Records (IDLES, Fontaines DC), Domino Records (Arctic Monkeys, Wet Leg), Warp Records (Aphex Twin, Danny Brown), LuckyMe (Baauer, Hudson Mohawke), and Lex Records (MF DOOM, Eyedress) among others.
Recent recorded music clients to join the family include Because Music (Christine & The Queens, Shygirl), Dangerbird (Grandaddy, Slothrust) and London Records (Bananarama, Sugababes).
In addition to our recorded music division, we also have a hugely successful growth marketing division which has a strong focus on the music creation space. Our clients in this space include Beatport, Plugin Boutique, Loopmasters, UJAM, RoEx, Krotos, Rhodes and more.
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